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Michael Gove is comprehensively destroying the teaching unions

(202 Posts)
longfingernails Tue 24-May-11 07:25:03

Just look at the wailing and gnashing of teeth over at the Guardian!
www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/may/23/gove-struggling-schools-education-policy

Crap schools should buck up or close. Good ones should expand. Headteachers should sack crap teachers, and give raises/bonuses/promotions to good ones, irrespective of seniority. It's that simple.

I wonder how many Guardian writers send their children to bog-standard comprehensives? They regularly censor any comment which lists the former schools of their most prominent commentators, which show how pretty much all of them have been privately educated themselves.

Anyway, the effective loss of of national bargaining for the teaching unions is a tremendous achievement. Congratulations, Mr Gove!

GiddyPickle Tue 24-May-11 09:15:14

There are some truly dire schools out there at the moment but it seems very unfashionable to state this and even less acceptable to state that bad teachers exist and are very hard to get rid of.

Even (or perhaps especially) on MN, where a parent asserts in the education threads they have been allocated a "crap school" and want to appeal, posters jump in to assure them that this can't be the case.
The parent is told they must ignore Ofsted and the 23% GCSE pass rate, they must visit the school again with an open mind, they must take into account that the intake is probably barely literate and that value added is what really matters, they must remember a tough school is character building, everywhere has bullying problems and people who go to a rough school can still get 10A* and, if after all this, they still believe that it is a crappy school then they are snobbish and wrong.

I honestly don't know though whether expanding the decent schools and starving the poor schools of pupils and funds is the way to turn things around though. We are in London with schools that people fight tooth and nail to get into and schools that people move house to avoid. This isn't a case of social deprivation or intake differences - the excellent and the appalling schools can be within half a mile of each other. There isn’t room to physically expand the good schools (unless expansion means their Head Teacher taking over control of the poor school as well) and there are too many pupils without places already in London to lose even more spaces by simply closing poor schools.

Paul88 Tue 24-May-11 10:45:01

All teachers whose performance is below average should be immediately sacked. That way all children will be able to get A*s without doing any work and regardless of the level of parental support. The teachers who are left should just pass a hat around at the end of each lesson and if they are really good at their jobs they will earn plenty of money.

slug Tue 24-May-11 11:28:01

Am loving Longfingernails complete inability to understand the concept of averages.

TheCoalitionNeedsYou Tue 24-May-11 12:44:41

Much as I HATE to defend LongFingerNails - she didn't mention averages. Paul88 did in their parodic post .

slug Tue 24-May-11 13:53:19

Granted, but she did mention the hallowed term "bog standard" which implies a mean of some sort.

tethersend Tue 24-May-11 14:00:39

Yeah!

Let's make the state sector more like the private sector; higher wages and longer holidays!

Woop!

Hang on.

scaryteacher Tue 24-May-11 15:07:58

The problem with 'failing' schools in many cases is the catchment area and the cohort. I taught in one school which served a poor and 'rough' area of Plymouth, and education wasn't valued particularly. It isn't the teachers always here, it can be a variety of factors, many of which are outwith the remit of teachers to address.

However seeing what they have achieved at Park Community school at Leigh Park in Hants may be what Gove has in mind, as it has been turned round over a period of 10 years; and now has one of the highest value added in the country, plus at last, the magic 50% of A*s to Cs. It can be done, but it takes time, presistence and a real change in the culture of a community to achieve this.

I'm a Tory LFN, but thereare so many factors at play in education, that tecahing is only one part of that. We have the kids for 25 hours a week - how long do their parents have them for? Whose attitude towards education do you think permeates deepest?

slug Tue 24-May-11 15:47:57

Agree scaryteacher. It's very, very difficult to teach effectively when your students turn up, having gone to bed at 3am, with nothing more than a can of coke and a cigarette in them for breakfast, if you're lucky. If they come from families where the parents have never worked, there may not be a culture of getting up in the morning, organising themselves or treating education as anything else than an excuse to be hassled.

I'm not saying all students from poverty riven homes are like that, though it only needs one or two in a class, especially if they are the alpha student, to wreck the experience for the rest of the students. Removing the EMA which gave students at least some incentive to carry on with their schooling hasn't helped much either.

But it's OK. It is far easier to blame "crappy schools" "bog standard" schools and "failing teachers" rather than actually face up to the real problems faced by schools with collapsing buildings (thanks Mr Gove for cancelling the rebuilding programme) and falling budgets. The result of a removal of collective bargaining will not be better pay for teachers fortunate enough to teach in the leafy suburbs with committed parents, but a lowering of pay and conditions for all teachers who already work the most unpaid overtime of any of the professions.

ttosca Tue 24-May-11 15:56:31

Wouldn't it be awesome to apply market pressures to failing schools, so that already privileged schools receive more funding while poorer performing schools (usually in poor, dysfunctional neighbourhoods) receive less funding and support!

Yeah! That'd be awesome! The market will sort everything out in the end. Who cares what happens to kids' education and life chances.

aliceliddell Tue 24-May-11 16:05:06

Tell you what - let's see how it goes with the NHS first, then destroy reform the education system in the same way.

tethersend Tue 24-May-11 16:51:02

<high fives ttosca>

longfingernails Thu 26-May-11 07:23:47

ttosca It is precisely because the children should come first, before the vested interests of unions and local education authorities, that the Gove reforms will be so wonderful. Bad schools should shut down if they don't improve.

I see that he is going further, making it possible to sack bad teachers in just a term!

www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8533439/Poor-teachers-to-be-fast-tracked-out-of-the-classroom.html

Gove really is a superstar.

EvilTwins Thu 26-May-11 07:29:25

longfingernails - what would you do with the children whose schools have been shut down then?

Penthesileia Thu 26-May-11 07:36:13

Because a new teacher every term - assuming one can always be found - is so much better and not at all disruptive to a child's education than giving a struggling teacher a chance to improve? Yes, that will definitely improve outcomes. Yes, a school with a reputation for sacking its teachers after a term for not magically improving results won't struggle to recruit and thus won't get stuck in a cycle of substitute teachers, etc., all of which maybe has a negative effect on students' performance. That wouldn't result in, in fact, a worsening of some schools, rather than improving them, would it? Because that would mean this is an insane idea, wouldn't it?

Serious question, lfn: if all the bad schools close, where will all the students go?

niceguy2 Thu 26-May-11 08:35:37

I agree with Scaryteacher. Throwing yet more money at education will only make a marginal impact on results.

If we look at a failing school, I would bet my bottom dollar that the reason is because there are a large number of kids who come from a family background where education isn't valued, their family life is chaotic & unstructured and the kids have been raised with little/no discipline.

It only needs a few before the teachers are spending more time behaviour managing than teaching. My daughter's school is supposed to be a "good school" yet some of the stories I hear makes me want to weep!

I'm sure there will be poor teachers. Just like there will be poor firemen, policemen etc. etc. In any large organisation, there will be some good/some poor.

I agree with the idea that it should be made easier to sack poor performing teachers but if we REALLY want to improve schools, I think the time has come to accept that schools cannot do it alone and we must tackle these chaotic families first.

slug Thu 26-May-11 09:22:12

And a bad teacher in one school can just as easily be a fantastic teacher in another. Personally I was always at my best with the students who gave other teachers the most trouble. When faced, as I was when I taught in a private boarding school, with a class of polite, slightly dull, well brought up upper middle class students, I floundered.

While, god knows, I've encountered some pretty ineffectual teachers, in my experience "failing" teachers are frequently simply the most obvious symptom of failing management. Look at any failing school (I hate that term) and you will almost inevitably see a culture of avoidance of responsibility/petty micromanaging or bullying within the senior management team. It's why, when the heads are changed, suddenly all those "failing" teachers miraculously become good teachers. It's not that they have been retrained or brought up to scratch, it's more likely that the new head has imposed a regieme of taking teacher's conerns seriously, enforcing dicipline and dealing with disruptive students, making it possible for teachers to actually do what they are trained to do, teach, instead of spending their time trying without support to maintain a semblence of order in their classes.

niceguy2 Thu 26-May-11 10:17:36

I have a good idea. Why don't we make the entire education system independent like we did for the Bank of England?

So make someone decent the head of the dept of education and spin them off.

I honestly think half the time, the problem is meddling politician's with their policy "initiatives".

RainbowShite Thu 26-May-11 12:26:44

Longfingernails, I live in hope that you are a misguided Labour plant to make us hate the Tories even more, sadly I don't think this is the case. I can't believe that anyone holds such right wing views.

ttosca Thu 26-May-11 13:44:00

Right wing and with a religious devotion and faith to 'the market'.

sfxmum Thu 26-May-11 13:48:24

what do you mean by expand? do bigger school produce best results?
is it possible to replicate results without the same resources in human and financial terms?
how is teacher training going to be funded? who will do it?
will there be good teacher school and bad teacher schools? who gets the substandard ones? will it be the bad schools getting worst?

EvilTwins Thu 26-May-11 18:02:02

I teach in a failing school. Well, we're in special measures, having failed an OFSTED. We've been in SM just over a year, but are improving with every inspection and are likely to be out of SM in the Autumn term once the GCSE results have proved that last year's excellent results weren't a fluke. However, I, along with two colleagues have just completed an outstanding teacher programme - the second cohort from our school, and have passed. I've had enough outstandings from OFSTED to feel pretty confident that I'm not at all bad at my job. Just wondering, OP, how I fit in - I'm an outstanding teacher in a failing school. Should I lose my job? Should my school be closed?

As niceguy2 says, one of our major issues is that too many parents just don't care enough about their chidlren's education to support us. The students have low aspirations, and in some cases, we are fighting a losing battle. But these children still need education. Where would they go, if you closed my school down? Beacause the other schools in the area are full.

longfingernails Thu 26-May-11 21:35:02

EvilTwins Closure would be extremely rare. Far more likely would be a takeover by a neighbouring academy which is performing better, or a school federation. They would no doubt impose tough new zero-tolerance discipline standards, encourage links with local businesses for vocational work, etc.

Of course, just having other schools locally improve will automatically incentivise your own to improve, through the miracle of competition.

But say that it is a truly appalling school, and is forced to close. If you are truly outstanding, then headmasters of new academies, with the newfound freedom to get rid of their deadwood and mediocrities, will be extremely willing to offer you a new job.

The only niggle about the Gove plans is the absurd prohibition on free schools and academies making profits. Profit is not a dirty word, and allowing them to make profits would encourage far more entrepreneurs and innovators to get involved in education.

EvilTwins Thu 26-May-11 22:23:42

LFG - one thing to say to you - hahahahahahahahahahahahaaha.

Or, to expand, you clearly have no idea.

"Neighbouring academies" do not want to take over a failing school.

"just having other schools locally improve will automatically incentivise your own to improve" How is it in cloud cuckoo land?

I'm kind of hoping that you're taking the piss with your last paragraph, but I fear you're not.

What hope is there for state education?

longfingernails Thu 26-May-11 22:43:54

If they were allowed to make profits, then they would definitely want to take over failing schools if they thought they had a chance of turning them around. After all, it would be lucrative to do so.

Then, if no-one thinks a failing school has a chance, then frankly, they should be shut down. Better to disrupt one set of pupils once than to destroy the life chances of entire generations.

Sadly, the one thing which Gove changed from the Swedish reforms, for political reasons, is the profit motive.

But somehow, from the tone of your post, I sense you don't really believe competition improves quality, improves efficiency, and improves standards. This is despite hundreds of years of evidence to the contrary.

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